Legal costs halt plans for Chief's 'Next Dance'
CHAMPAIGN – A Chief Illiniwek performance planned for homecoming weekend has been postponed indefinitely after the University of Illinois threatened legal sanction.
Roger Huddleston of Mahomet, the co-founder of the Honor the Chief Society, said his group doesn't have the money to wage a legal battle with the UI over the Chief Illiniwek trademark.
Just last week, Huddleston said "The Next Dance" would go on despite the cease-and-desist letter.
"It's a darn shame," Huddleston said Thursday. "I feel particularly bad for the young people. I can't jeopardize them. And we just don't have the money to fight this. We're not conceding that the cease-and-desist order is valid, but we have to look at it."
He said the Students for Chief Illiniwek, which was to be the sponsor of the Chief's dance performance at the Assembly Hall, could be affected because the Honor the Chief Society is a financial backer.
Urbana campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler had little reaction to the news.
"It's really the student group's decision. As long as they meet the criteria to use a university facility, and I believe they have, they can go on," she said.
Samantha Uher, a UI junior and president of Students for Chief Illiniwek, told The News-Gazette on Thursday afternoon: "I'm still in shock."
"We've been looking forward to it; they're just taking another step. Last year they tried to take us down administratively, this year with legal power, and we just don't have the means to fight it," Uher added.
Uher said there was a chance the dance could be held at a later date.
The Oct. 1 letter from Chicago lawyer Andrew L. Goldstein, demands that the Honor the Chief Society:
"Withdraw trademark application Serial No. 77/136902; remove the reference to the Chief Illiniwek name in connection with the posters and pin offered on the society's web site; cease and desist from sale of the pin bearing the Illini trademark; and remove the references on the society's web site to performances or appearances by Chief Illiniwek and cease and desist from any similar statements."
The letter also asks the society to "provide us with written assurances that the society will not use, and will cease any use of, the Chief Illiniwek name or other trademarks of the University of Illinois on its web site."
"Even though we've got a permit from them for the dance, we can't afford the risk," Huddleston said.
The third annual "Next Dance" was scheduled for UI homecoming weekend, Oct. 23, starting at 6 p.m. at the Assembly Hall, following the Illini football game against Indiana.
Ivan Dozier of Ivesdale, a UI sophomore, was to perform the Chief's dance, after winning an auditions held last spring by Students for Chief Illiniwek.